Rarely — if ever — has there been a starting quarterback in the NFL that has polarized multiple fan-bases without hardly saying a word more than Jay Cutler. Entering his 10th season in the NFL, expectations have never been any lower for the QB from Santa Clause, IN.
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“When we are going on 10 years, nine, 10 years in the league — it’s time to get it. I felt like I was the only one in the organization that had the ‘huevos’ to hold [Cutler] accountable. It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” Marshall shared.
“I don’t know if he has been hit too many times,” Marshall elaborated. “He is one of the most-hit quarterbacks. That can take a toll on you.”
While Cutler has played behind some poor offensive lines throughout his career, each year you’d hear numerous predictions from insiders claiming that this would be the year for Cutler to “break out.” Those stories and predictions have now dried up more than a desert well.
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Cutler perhaps had his best chance last year to break through and make some noise given the roster he had in place with the Chicago Bears and the team’s focus on offense, and quite simply, fell on his face — again.
The Bears ended the season on a five game losing streak and finished last in the NFC North with a 5-11 record. To drive home just how bad Cutler and the Bears were last year, in the final game of the season Cutler was benched in favor of career pine-rider Jimmy Clausen.
Nothing has seemed to motivate Cutler in his career.
Not playoff games, great rosters, high (or low) expectations, fan criticism or teams changing coaching staffs to assist him multiple times. Some men simply aren’t wired with the same competitive fire as others, and this appears to be a blunt reality for the veteran signal-caller.
ESPN reported that Cutler was seen smiling, signing autographs and joking with reporters at training camp this week. Likely this took concerted effort on Cutler’s part as he possesses one of the most drab personas publicly with the media and fans that the league has ever seen.
Can he make that same concerted effort in NFL games to play the game with passion now that the walls are closing in?
May 27, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach John Fox during organized team activities at the Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach John Fox (maybe intentionally) called Cutler by the wrong first name at one of his first press conferences after being hired earlier this year. Fox is now the third head coach in four years that the storied franchise has had; and not the type of coach that will play games with his players nor kowtow to Cutler as Marshall suggested the team has.
Cutler is still only 32 years old in a league that protects their quarterbacks like they were made out of glass. Theoretically, he should have many years left given his arm talent and physical tools.
However, when you get benched for a player like Clausen and you’ve gotten three coaches fired in your career (including one borderline Hall Of Fame coach in Mike Shanahan), the NFL begins to realize there’s only one common denominator in those equations.
While Cutler will likely have a roster spot in some fashion for years to come given the dearth of overall talent at the QB position in the NFL, it truly has become a now or never proposition for Cutler to prove that he’s a franchise quarterback this season.
As with all things Cutler, don’t count on him to come through.
Will Reeve is a contributing writer to NFL Spin Zone. You can connect with him on Facebook here.
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